With brown-checkered curtains, wood-paneled walls, a fireplace, and electric lanterns over the tables, Tom Sawyer Restaurant & Pastry Shop evokes the feel of a homey general store. To accompany the frontier-like ambience, the cooks spend their mornings whisking together hearty breakfasts of scrambled eggs and buttermilk pancakes with enough syrup to float a log cabin. Although the restaurant's lunch specials rotate daily, certain homestyle favorites?including orders of fried chicken and open-faced turkey sandwiches?regularly fly out to tables until 3 p.m..
The aroma of slow-simmering caramel and chocolate wafts through Hoffman’s Chocolate’s Greenacres headquarters. To demystify its origins, the shop’s chocolatiers have outfitted their kitchen with observation windows, granting customers the chance to admire their delicate handiwork and holiday helper subcontractors. They meticulously lace European truffles with chocolate drizzles, and dunk cherries and pretzels in milk and dark chocolate. This devotion to small batches of handmade treats extends back to the 1970s, when founder Paul Hoffman began peddling treats out of his small Lake Worth chocolate shop. Over the decades, chocolatiers have expanded the bakery’s repertoire to include whimsical confections such as enormous fortune cookies and seasonal treats.
Leah Gizzi builds fresh pastas and sauces using imported ingredients chosen for their quality, such as Fiorucci genoa salami and Strianese DOP tomatoes. A stash of local veggies and herbs grown in her personal garden help her form her selection of crowd favorites that include her roasted-red-pepper noodles, meatballs, red gravy, and shells stuffed with spinach and ricotta. Leah also mixes fine ingredients into her cannolis and in her cakes, including one that comes in the shape of a three-dimensional teddy bear. On Sunday, she heads over to The Buttonwood Plaza Artisan’s Market, where she sells her handcrafted foods and easy-to-assemble Italian-dinner kits.
A third-generation Chinese restaurateur, Dragon Star owner Francisco Cho takes taste buds on a journey through Cantonese- and Szechuan-style cuisine, which his chefs make entirely from scratch and to order. Under the soft flicker of paper lanterns, amid four flat-screen TVs, guests lounge atop plush seats and nibble favorites such as kung pao chicken, sweet 'n' sour tofu, sesame beef, and barbecue spare ribs while imbibing BYOB drinks. Most of Dragon Star's cuisine is also available for takeout, provided customers have secured reservations at their dining room table.
When Dean Lavallee opened the first Park Avenue BBQ in 1988, he had one lofty mission in mind: to serve the best barbecue ever made. Despite the seemingly impossible nature of his goal, he and his team continue to rise to the challenge, dry-rubbing their meats to smoke and char-grill on-site. They use all-natural, grain-fed, domestic pork for their traditional and Carolina-style barbecue pork—pulled by hand—and only use fresh, never-frozen ribs that are smoked daily over hickory. As diners chow down on hearty homestyle sides, seafood platters, or buffalo wings tossed in one of six sauces, they can admire the dining room's pictures of their city's most prominent people, places, and robot mayors.
Park Avenue BBQ arranges their meats into fun, hearty dishes such as the Dempublican sandwich, which combines smoked pork and beef brisket separated only by cheese and bacon to create a sizeable sandwich that the team has dubbed "porkalicious". They whip up Funnybonz, which look and taste like miniature ribs, using tender, lean pork that's prepared by cooking up regular ribs beneath a shrink ray. In 2008, their dedication to each dish caused Cityvoter's users to name Park Avenue BBQ the best barbecue in town.
The Jamaican-born family members who own and operate Big Taste Caribbean Restaurant have created a visual and culinary oasis reminiscent of their native island and its neighbors. Basking in the vivid rays of a wall-length mural of a smiling red-and-orange sun, chefs craft small batches of traditional oxtail with plantains along with their own recipes for signature jerk sauce and curried shrimp. The aromas of chicken grilled over an open flame and Fridays' yard-style fish fries invite passersby to experience the cooking of the tropics. As day sets into night, cues clink on the golden pool table and a ceiling fan lazily goads the air into circles simulating a Caribbean breeze or a coconut's whispered plea to be turned into a piña colada. Live DJs and dance performances occasionally sway the straws sticking out of a Jamaican Red Stripe lager to the beat of reggae, hip-hop, and dancehall music.